Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding a way to serve others by using them.
Sitting here at age fifty as I begin my twentieth year of teaching, I continue my journey in pursuit of a life that has balance. Admittedly it remains a topic that I still have more questions about than actual answers. Over a month ago I was having a conversation with a first year teacher on Twitter who has phenomenal ideas and energy. She was sharing the extensive preparation that she was undertaking during the summer in order to confront the challenges that awaited her as a first year teacher. Her approach and day to day efforts were quite impressive to say the least but I cautioned her to find a balancing point in order to sustain her energy over the long haul of a ten month school year. Another member of my PLN who had been monitoring the conversation admonished me stating that "balance" is a personal matter and differs from one person to the next. Initially I was taken aback by the comment because my sentiments were only motivated by assisting in the overall success of this first year teacher. However after recent contemplation on the subject of balance, I realized that he was correct in his assessment. Balance is in fact a personal matter and varies depending on your current circumstances that surround your life.
During one particular day in July, I was sitting at a gas station at approximately 7a.m. and took notice of the minimal traffic flow at that hour which seemed to be indicative of the slower summer pace. Summer routines had been settled into and there was a definite simplicity about life at that hour. As I pondered my day ahead, I began to compare my summer days during July and August while working at my summer camp job, to the days that unfold over the course of the other ten months of the years when I work as an educator. Simplicity while present during my life throughout the summer months due to a relaxing of responsibilities is certainly not a word that I often use from September to June. Those are the months of the year when the "balancing act" is the most challenging. During those months the priorities and responsibilities increase exponentially at work and in our household. Meeting the expectations created by these responsibilities creates many
The challenges begin in an effort to get everyone out of the house on time and where they have to be. My wife and I are both educators and my two teenage sons are in middle and high school, so it is not uncommon that someone (usually my wife) plays beat the clock on a daily basis to ensure that everyone is where they need to be in a timely fashion. While the safe arrival of my own children at their schools allows me to properly focus on the academic and social needs of my students, the academic and social development of my own children is occurring simultaneously and is never far from my mind.
Balance then becomes a question of priority setting, time management and responsibility fulfillment. Can I use the hours in a day, week, month or year to adequately meet the responsibilities that have been bestowed upon me by those that need me? Can I do it in a fashion where everyone (including myself) is getting a fair amount of committed time and effort? and Can I do it in a fashion where I can sustain my optimum physical an mental health? My success and the success of those that depend on me require me to at least pursue and attain balance on some level.
Here is what I think that I know. Balance is a personal issue. Balance varies from person to person depending upon your age, status and limits. Balance is only attained temporarily due to the consistency of change in our lives.
This is what I believe. We owe it to ourselves and the one's who depend upon us to pursue it. If nothing else, balance or it least the appearance of it gives our life definition and stability. As educators and or parents we have a responsibility to our children to demonstrate to them the value of balance, even if attainment is only temporary. The anxiety of the day to day schedule and time management issues faced by our children can only be lessened if they can believe that balance is worth pursuing and certainly something valuable, once attained
Does balance exist? That's a question only you can answer.